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An Amoral Argument Against App Piracy

Secret Base Design's MIDImorphosis got a little update today that fixes a bug on iOS 5, but the real news is in how the bug was found. A guy emailed Secret Base Design asking for support, and in the email references using multiple cracked copies of the app.

To his credit Patrick fixed the apparent pirate's issue, since it would effect other iOS 5 users as well and the user claimed to be a paying customer, but then he went one step further with an open letter on app piracy. He covers some new ground not often heard in the anti-piracy debate, pointing out that not every iOS developer is making Angry Birds money and that he personally reinvests a large portion of his revenue back into the community.

"While the revenue from the app has gotten to the level where I could get breakfast and lunch covered most days, I don't spend it that way. A lot of what I make from selling the app has gone into the development expenses. I believe that creative people should be paid for their work -- and I hired a professional graphic designer to update the user interface for me. I think she did a fantastic job; she was able to do things that I absolutely can't do myself. I invested a couple of months worth of the app revenue in hiring her; it's paid for itself by now, but it was money out of my pocket to do this. I've also had to buy a variety of guitar interfaces, so that I can test them and make sure things work. And of course, I've had to buy a Mac, a developer license, and a few different iDevices, to be able to do this. I don't have the new iPad, but fortunately, I've been able to hire a beta tester that has one. I couldn't afford a new Mac, but I was able to get a good deal on a used one. I also advertise, which costs me money -- on some of the sites, I think the sales increase works out to be a net gain. There's one site, though, where I advertise simply as a way to help out a blogger because he seems like a nice person who's hit a rough patch personally. I make a little bit of money, but most of it goes back into making the app better, or supporting the iOS music community."
- Secret Base Design Open Letter

Patrick goes on to explore some moral theories about paying for everything, but morality is subject to relativity and thus easily dismissed. You can make arguments all day long to counter them; e.g. the evils of capitalism, the pernicious effects of false scarcity in the digital world on the third-world, etc.

Instead I'd like to present to you an amoral argument against app piracy: Greed!

I'm one of those people who gets a chunk of Secret Base Design revenue in the form of both my beta testing services, as well as Secret Base Design's long commitment to sponsoring the site. If you don't pay up for apps, developers can't advertise on my site. If developers don't advertise on this site, I can't keep justifying the time I invest into providing this service to you guys.

Obviously enough of you are paying for the apps to keep things going, but that's not enough. I want more, because I'm greedy. I want developers to have enough money to hire me to do beta testing and video tutorials. I charge a hell of a lot of money for these services, and if every single one of you isn't paying up there is no way they are going to be able to afford it. These services in turn help ensure that apps are released relatively bug free. I sincerely hope my video tutorials have helped a majority of you jump into apps that would otherwise be unattainably dense.

If greed is your motivation to steal apps, let it also be your motivation to pay. The more you pay, the more I get paid, and the more I get paid, the more you get back. I mean holy shit, I'm charging $600 for a tutorial video. That is a lot of app sales! And don't think this plea only applies to active sponsors of the site, because if you're not buying from everyone else then how are they going to afford to sponsor the site or videos later on? Piracy is rampant in computer-based music making, and almost openly discussed, but we're a small community. Let's not steal from ourselves.

Reader Comments 45

App piracy offers the obsessive Jack Russel Terrier-like joy of frantically searching through dense shrubbery, hoping to sniff out the best, freshest little treat; consuming and forgetting it just as quickly.

We're spending a lot of time clicking dubious links in our quest for a cracked version of Beatmaker. We have to make sure we don't update our iOS, missing out on major OS upgrades for months. The cracked Apps may crash or stop working at any time. And the NSA knows what we're doing (no, they won't come and get us for downloading cracked synths, but that's not all we're up to, eh? And it's all coming out at the trial).

Also, these aren't the dead mice and discarded condoms your dog slurps up with frenzied delight; these are well-crafted toys/tools created by people for the joy of other people, and they don't cost that bloody much.

It is easier and better to buy a $25 App than to steal it. I've tried both and this is my conclusion.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Ian

Dude...Tim... This sucks...
I luv ur work, you know I do, but 600 bucks for a tutorial...damn son... I mean, Iam a 100% paying customer (over 1000 eu in apps, way more then I payd my iPad itself)... but damn, you let me down man... I thought this was a community, not some greedy money making machine...to me you got things all mixed up... I donno... this site was my favorite in depth audio app info source by far... but reading this puts me in a whole other position... (srry for all the points, bit emotional here) ...

Iam an artist in real life, I use the apps to (obviously) make music but I also draw illustrations and other graphic work, design websites and shoot videos. Sometimes I get paid, sometimes i prefer to give away some flavor for free, thats all up to me. I know my music and illustrations are being pirated more then i get payed but the day i find out that some reporter is asking my fans to support me so I can pay him...donno...but Ill virtually shoot the basterd... Don't get me wrong, I understand you gotta make a living. You should get payed for the (really) decent work you do... but you have to be a realist, you are supporting a niche, you said it more then once yourself.
Being so openly greedy feels just plain wrong to me... Leeching the poor and creative...
Sorry for these words, and maybe harsh conclusions, but when I like something or someone I just gotta be honest...
Actually all this is one big disappointment...
I hope you don't confuse my openness with negativism, Iam not trying to bash anything or anyone. Nor am i arguing that piracy isn't a bad thing. Iam just convinced that greed is not the right solution.

amen to that and I hope we can still be friends :) (sorry for my poor english but I just had to shoot my thoughts)

November 18, 2013  | person_outline oDoR

I had a 1st gen ipod years ago that i jail breaked so it could download apps and i remember a torrent site full of ios apps but even if i could pirate apps im really not interested,and thanks to this site and others we have communicated with devs and i would not want to as they are in general very cool people that make cheap amazing apps for us out of hard work and time and very little money so i am really happy to pay and im sure the rest of you on this site agree-look how many times a dev has come on and asked for what we want from apps (lets not ruin that).As far as porn,tv,films yeh pirate that shit as i would not pay for that crap anyway.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline andre

I'm afraid that another anti/pro-piracy thread will soon spring and I wish it wouldn't, on the other hand, it's the elephant in the room and should be occasionally addressed at least for the sake of awareness.

So, for me, at the end of the day, it's not until you see someone "pirate" your "effort" that you will "probably" fully understand that it's "not very nice". (replace "words" as you wish... "pretty fucking stupid" is always welcome)

My 0.02 EUR
h79

November 18, 2013  | person_outline hoyas79

@oDoR

While you make a very passionate argument, I feel you are overreacting and projecting your own personal values upon Tim without even knowing all the facts. Take a deep breath, everything's gonna be alright. :)

November 18, 2013  | person_outline gatearray

@oDoR supporting a niche usually means higher prices, the more mass market something is the easier it is to drive down costs.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline RMG

@oDoR

I think perhaps you missed the hint of "tongue and cheek" in his amoral argument.

As for piracy, music making app development is perhaps one of the few superfluous industries out there actually worth supporting. The apps are too inexpensive and just too cool not to support.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Jesse

Tim,
I appreciate your honesty on everything you do. You aren't afraid to tell it like it is, and you aren't hiding anything about your business practices and how you work.
As a guy that puts out tons of video tutorials, I respect the price you charge. First off, you are damn good at it. Second, and probably what most justifies the cost, you have clearly invested countless amounts of time into building Discchord into what it is today. You are an amazing curator of interesting and useful music apps, and you give honest and sincere thoughts on everything you post. There are a lot of repost sites out there, but yours always offers some original thought. Your time is precious. Creating a quality video takes lots of time, and if it was too cheap you'd be inundated and be forced to cut corners. Sure the money is a lot for a bootstrapping developer, but it is an investment. I know that I personal have spent hundreds of dollars on apps I found through your work. The work it took to make and to uphold the audience you have is immense. If it wasn't then there'd be a ton of Disschords out there. All of that has to mean something. Running a blog like this isn't as simple as it might seem and if you are going to give up a significant chunk of your finite life to be so thorough and consistent, I think it is worth a significant chunk of paper. Apparently developers must agree too, because they are willing to pay it. Good for you and thanks for the transparency.
All the best and thanks for everything,
Brian
AfroDJMac

November 18, 2013  | person_outline AfroDJMac

@gatearray: ur right, I do not know all the facts, I am a drama queen, and yes, all is allright after taking a deep breath :)

@RMG: I know this is the unfortunate case, but should we support it?

@Jesse: Typical me, always ready to be fooled, naïve imaginative humanoid I am... I get it now... I think

@AfroDJMac: I could not have put the hard work of Tim into better words myself...

U guys rule...

This being said (+ the fact that NO sarcasm is used whatsoever); I still think Tim is way overpriced :) but as long as its not me that has to pay him I am not complaining, 'en contraire', as a fan, I luv him/you/this

November 18, 2013  | person_outline oDoR

Hi -- some follow up -- after I bitched out the user, he clarified for me that he had actually bought the app, ran into the bug, and was exploring the cracked versions to see if there was a work-around. I totally misunderstood this (my fault). The guy did nothing wrong, and I was way out of line yelling at him. I've apologized (about a dozen times, and he deserves many more); he's been more than gracious, and we're good now. Open mouth, insert foot, then spend some time trying to extract it back out.

The bigger picture, though -- piracy worries the &^%! out of me. I worked in the games industry for a while, and it was always a huge drag. With the lower prices for apps, I was thinking that maybe we had gotten past the piracy problem, but it looks like that's not happening. Really depresses me -- I don't want a police state, and I don't want stuff getting stolen, and those seem to be the two options.

I think Jesse is right wrt the "tongue in cheek" part from Tim. He's not getting rich (I'd guess that he'd have more money in his pocket if he didn't do any of this, and instead spent his time flipping burgers). I help keep the lights on here, because it's important for the community to keep the lights on.

And the community is the thing I like best about the iOS music crowd. For the most part, very nice people, kicking in something in whatever way they can. Some people buy apps, and make cool music. Some of us write apps for others to use. Tim gets the word out, knows everything about every app, and I can count on him to break every single beta version I send his way. He's brutally honest (with me, and with everyone else). It's a pretty good arrangement; I don't want to see it overrun by people who take, and don't give anything back (like, say, the Android marketplace).

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Patrick/Secret Base Design

For what it's worth, $600 for a video tutorial is very low. $3000 per minute of video is much more realistic if your primary business is producing professional promotional videos. Don't be believe me? Have a look...

http://grumomedia.com/how-much-a-typical-promo-video-costs/

Quality is always subjective, but I think the Grumo stuff is exceptional and very keenly priced!

I understand that your prices may be this low because of your desire to support the community and I think that's awesome and fully support anyone doing this, I do it myself, but then we are in danger of devaluing the market etc... etc... Then we end up with artists and creatives who don't get paid what they are actually really worth. See other threads on app pricing where we have discussed this at length.

The greed thing is a bit weird, but I can see the tongue in cheek aspect and give the benefit of the doubt.

I have indulged at a time in my life where I really did have very little money, and ultimately did end up buying the software I used - in this sense piracy is very much along the lines of 'try before you buy' and further credence to the argument against piracy of this flavour could easily be achieved with the free download IAP route.

Otherwise, there is no doubt that app piracy at this level is absurd and outrageously cheapskate! Anyone that needs to be informed of this probably needs help in other ways ;-)

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Baddcr / SynthPatcher

Ha, yes, you're probably right about being overpriced, oDoR... What can I say, I'm an expensive date!

As AfroDJMac points out, a lot of time goes into my tutorial videos. On average we're talking about a week of my "free" time to research an app thoroughly; figure out the best features the really need explaining, and how best to explain them, plus the time it takes to film and edit them!

This whole operation has been a money making one from pretty early on. I started doing videos because my dog walking business was drying up in the economic downturn. I needed to find some way to supplement my income. When I realized how many people were coming here I figured that would be a good place to focus my energies, so this has been a priority.

I've actually been turning away dog walking clients that want visits too early in the morning, just so I can keep up with the news here! Every day I spend about 3-4 hours researching the latest apps, diving deep in the bowels of YouTube for new videos, and then writing up everything. All with the hope of getting the news up by 5PM GMT for Europeans getting off work and about time for Americans going to lunch or just looking to take a break in their workday.

I'm not looking to make it rich here or stop dog walking (I love my dogs and would still do it if I won the lottery!), but the site and my additional services have become a meaningful portion of my monthly income. As such I need to charge fairly high for those services to be compensatory for all the time involved.

I welcome all criticism, as always, and at least you guys aren't arguing in a anti/pro piracy flame fest! ;)

You make great job. you deserve to be paid.
This is "universal"...
Thanks again for your great job.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Daddy Mo

i'm surprised that some people got Tim's words literally. Isn't it just his clever tricky way to try change minds of pro-piracy guys?

November 18, 2013  | person_outline qmish

I guess some people don't appreciate the hundreds or thousands of hours of work that goes into creating a great app. That's not even including the years of education (university, self-taught or otherwise) needed to get you to the point where you actually have enough skill to build an app.

Funny thing with software piracy is that I bet a lot of the people doing it wouldn't steal a car from their neighborhood if they thought they could get away without getting caught or punished. Because that would be wrong. But electronic assets seem to be completely different thing. They are intangible and so OK to steal. No victims here, right?

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Joe

I'm certainly not pro-piracy, and I've been vocal here before about how ridiculous it is to bitch about the cost of a $10 app that represents months of work and years of experience. But it does strike me that often the rhetoric - and arithmetic - around this issue is pretty problematic. (Not, I hasten to add, in this abnormally civilised corner of the net.) The sad fact is, most of those people were never going to buy your app, even at App Store knockdown prices. Therefore they do not represent lost revenue. There are marginal arguments about the few who would buy if they had to and the few who do because of the experience they get either by pirating themselves or getting indirect exposure via someone who has, and certainly the boundaries are not hard and fast, but for the most part it seems to me that time spent angsting over piracy is usually time wasted. Those people are not your customers. Fuck em.

(I may be slightly over-exercised by this from too many nights dealing with misbehaving anti-piracy crap on DVDs, Blu-Rays etc that fucks over legit customers while impacting pirates not one whit. That stuff is *so* well judged.)

November 18, 2013  | person_outline walkymatt

Forgot to mention. I really enjoyed the conclusion of Patrick's open letter, and think that this is true. You reap what you sow.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Joe

If you want to save money on apps, great. You don't NEED to buy 'em on Day One. Stick 'em in your AppShopper wishlist (or whatever other App Store watchdog site you prefer), and wait for them to go on sale. Most of the apps I've gotten have been on sale at some point. For instance, I know I'm going to use Auria at some point, but couldn't justify paying $50 to have it on my iPad2. But it went on sale for 50% off back in August, and I am pretty sure I'll be upgrading soon, so I snagged it. (Note, past sales aren't guarantees of future sales, but it WAS on sale for the Black Friday weekend last year, so keep your eyes on it, if you're interested in it!) Because of sites like discchord, I found out about Animoog in the first few days after it was released and nabbed it for $1. It hasn't been that cheap since, but it's been on sale for a pretty good discount several times since.

Alternatively, when you realize how small some of the companies are that are producing these apps, and how much they rely on revenue from sales to support themselves and their families, maybe you'll decide to go ahead and buy them at full price so that the devs keep making killer apps! I just dropped $20 for Bias (I did some beta testing for them, but wasn't able to keep up over the dev cycle leading up to release). For me, it's $20 well spent -- I want to learn more about tube amps and how they work and what effect different tubes have on tone, and until now the only way to do that would be to go to a store and try out different amps, or start spending tons of cash on hardware. For $20 I can noodle around in my living room for hours, headphones plugged in, without bothering anybody else in the house, and get a great education on the subtleties each component, knob, and mic placement have on overall tone. I could probably wait to get it on sale at some point, but I like what PositiveGrid is doing building these apps, and I want to make sure they keep building kick-butt amp/effect modeling software.

So buy the app, comment on forums like this one about your experience, make videos, write blog articles, talk 'em up on Facebook forums, and help keep the apps coming! But if you pirate these apps and actually use them instead of buying them, you're not only hurting the devs by not giving them the revenue they're due, you're cutting off your supply of good apps in the future.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Matt Newby

I think that 600.-$ for a tutorial video is not overpriced at all. It's not like Mr. Webb just takes an app and films his iPad while playing around with it. You can tell that he really investigated the app he's reviewing and knows (and says) what it can do and what it can't do. If I were an app developer and was looking for somebody reliable to make a video tutorial, I wouldn't hesitate one moment to pay what he asks for. And like AfroDjMac said: it's an investment, and a good one!

And Patrick of Secret Base Design: Thanks very much for a very interesting read!

November 18, 2013  | person_outline synthandson

discchord is one of the few bookmarked sites I rely on for reliable and interesting news on IOS music making apps. My reasons are many, but top of the list today has to be the courage to re-post and make comments about Secret Base Design and how the owner challenged a customer. Yes, he recognized his error and apologized to his customer, but that should not diminish the fact that their needs to be a fundamental respect for the intellectual property of others. "Labors of love" that are given away without cost of fee are often exploited for profit by opportunists. This only happens because the end-user is either ignorant or apathetic when it comes to understanding the sweat equity that goes into many of these apps, in addition to the cost savings that many of these app developers offer to musicians. Case in point: amps and effects pedals are very expensive. Hardware based amps sims and multifx pedals are not as expensive, but still beyond the budgets of most starving artists. App developer Positive Grid has created one of the most amazing all in one apps I have ever seen (or heard) and its very affordable, especially if you time your in-app purchases to coincide with price drops! End result? I PAY for an excellent app, and their app gets featured on this (and other) websites. its a great product that is not that expensive. When I pay, I send the message that I respect the craftsmanship of a fellow artisan. If I pay now, maybe they can keep the price affordable for the next guy. And maybe one day, when i produce a work of art that is worthy, someone will pay me, not because I'm greedy, but they respect my intellectual property.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Kevmove02

Rock on Tim. I totally agree with you. I'm actually a musician working hard to make money to eat and such. So while I give away lots of music, I need for the stuff I sell to be paid for and not stolen. You don't charge us to read these reviews and that's just awesome. It takes alot of time..... blaah, blah blah. Point is you're right. Make dat money bro. And thank you for all the FREE stuff you give us.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline CoopMusic247

I'm kind of surprised that my fees became the topic of discussion here. Those prices have always been listed on the Advertising and Developer Services pages since they both went up ages ago, and the Services page is even nested in the menu right below the contact page. But this has gotten a lot of folks to come out and comment for the first time, so that's awesome! Hello new names!

And thank you very much everyone for the support! I'm glad you understand where I'm coming from and see the value there.

Somewhat back to the topic: You're mostly right that I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I think this is the only way to address some issues. If you present someone with a moral argument, they can easily present a moral counter-argument. So rather than go for some back and forth morality dispute, or resort to an emotional plea, self-interest (sometimes called greed) is Universal. I wanted to present the very real impact of piracy on your enjoyment of this site. Any tongue-in-cheekery that comes with that is just me trying to skirt around the moral issue. ;)

Really Tim it seems all you're calling for is a healthy economic system, one where people work and get paid for their work, so that they can then go and pay for things themselves. It's why I took the "Greed!" comment to be tongue in cheek.

When people steal or even needlessly stockpile, it puts a kink in the system and drags it down for everyone, including the thief and the hoarder.

Money, along with all the natural resources backing said money, are like the circulatory system: they need to keep flowing for the body to be healthy.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Jesse

synthandson wrote: " I think that 600.-$ for a tutorial video is not overpriced at all. "

+1.

You get a plumber out to fix a leaky tap and it will cost you $150. He's there for 5 mins and then gone.

In professional video production $600 is only enough to pay for the catering.

November 18, 2013  | person_outline Simon

@Walkymatt- I think you make a great point. A lot of this is probably wasted bits. I'm guessing there's maybe 1 out of 100 pirates that asks themselves "Can I steal this or do I need to buy it?" and the other 99 probably ask themselves "Can I steal this now or should I move on and try again later." That's just the culture. They're never going to pay.

@Patrick - I'm not sure if I know the whole story but from what I've read, I would not feel one bit bad about bitching this guy out. He had a problem and so he downloaded cracked versions to see if he could find a fix that way? Sorry, but that sounds like total bullshit to me. When I have trouble with a product I've paid for I hit up the company that sold it to me for support, not look for solutions on pirate's bay. I mean, c'mon, let's get real, who the hell does that?

$600 For A Video? - Seems reasonable to me, and I'm sure Tim's not holding a gun to anyone's head to make them buy his service. If I ever decided to make a music app, you can bet I'd be considering paying Tim $600 to do a video. Not only do I know from lots of examples that he'd do a good job, and that he'd take hours worth of work off my plate, but he's also cultivated a huge list of people who are exactly my target customers that will watch the promo just because he made it. They know it will be a fun watch, informative, and objective Seems like a good business model to me! I don't see any reason Tim can't be a contributing member of the community and charge for some services at the same time.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Joe

Hear hear. "Greed is good". Tim chose to use an inflammatory word like "Greed" to get peoples' juices flowing, because he's a good writer who wanted to hammer his point home. It worked. Agreed with Jesse that what we're really talking about is a healthy economy in our little community.

Music apps may not make Angry Birds money, but thanks to the community this is also the most economically mature consumer app category on the App Store - no other consumer category would have a new app release for $20 and people all around talking about how cheap that is. Imagine someone releasing a photo sharing app for $20. Or a game! The riots that would ensue!

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Adil Sherwani (Rhism)

righteous indignation and free market economics are their own best defense. piracy is indefensible. pirates don't have a moral (or legal) leg to stand on, argggh.

(@tim's been a more than gracious host for all of us. something we shouldn't take for granted.)

November 19, 2013  | person_outline a1

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.

Gordon Gekko

;-)

November 19, 2013  | person_outline IncarnateX

@everyone nice posts!

@patrick also like @Joe I think the whole I-bought-the-app-not-working-like-I-wanted-so-let-me-download-a-cracked-version-story a bit convoluted... lacking better knowledge (like the actual app store receipt) he regretted the fact he was caught with pirated versions and decided to buy (out of guilt) or he wasn't sure the app was good enough and so decided to try a pirated version, found the bug, asked for help, got help (and a bit more) and then seeing it all works, he then bought the app

I'm afraid I'm not giving the benefit of the doubt here, but software piracy works that way, not the other way around.

my 0.02 EUR
h79

November 19, 2013  | person_outline hoyas79

As a software person, whenever I find a bug in some large piece of code (large enough that it'd take a lot of time to pinpoint where exactly the bug is) the first thing I do is try to look for older and/or newer versions of that code to see if the bug is in those versions or not. The best way to pinpoint the source of the bug is to identify when it was first introduced into the code. This is something pretty much all software people learn to do.

I have no idea if this guy was a software person or at least someone scientific-minded. But the idea behind trying out cracked versions *after* finding a bug in the legal version makes complete sense to me.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Adil Sherwani (Rhism)

I dunno, Rhism. I know you are a software guy, and a very good one, so I respect what you're saying. I am also a software guy, and it would never occur to me to do this. First, if I did find the bug wasn't present in a prior version, not being the developer, I wouldn't be able to fix it anyway, since I don't have access to the source code. Second, you never know what else has been done to a cracked version besides removing the copy protection. And lastly, when I took my findings to the developer I would assume he would be pissed at me for grabbing cracked copies, like has happend here.

If I really wanted to help, I would offer to be a beta tester so that I could maximize the impact I have, and work directly with the developer.

So I guess while it's possible this guy was a legit customer and trying to help, it just seems really, really unlikely to me.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Joe

I thought it was really sketchy that he knew where to get the cracked apps, and that he easily installed different versions. Kind of like he'd had practice doing that. And I think we all know that the Pirate Bay doesn't exist to help out people who have accidentally scratched their store-bought DVDs. But he had in fact bought a legit copy, as I found out later. I had misunderstood his first emails, and jumped to conclusions.

After he emailed about the cracked versions, I was pissed, so I figured I'd wait until I knew what I wanted to say before emailing back. While tracking down the bug, I was stewing away, thinking to myself, "that #*$&@, and all the people like him." When I got the bug fix done, I figured I had to send something before the app updated. I was kind of worked up, as is probably clear, and went on a bit of a rant. He got an earful he didn't deserve, but the bigger problem is still out there, and I worry that it'll keep getting worse.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Patrick/Secret Base Design

I read an interview today with Floris Klinkert, one half of the FabFilter company and he estimates that for every legally bought copy of one of their products, there are 100-1000 ilegally downloaded ones.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline synthandson

imho, at the end of the day it's not about how lo/hi the price is - be it 0,99 EUR or 999 EUR - it's only about not wanting to pay for it, because,... 99% of pirated software won't get used anyway, at least for iOS apps niche, and music apps niche of niches.

I know 99% is a gross exaggeration, but stay with me for 33 seconds:
1) there is only so much time in anyone's day, especially if you have a job
2) the time needed to learn a new app, "master" it and making something out of it is NOT NEGLIGIBLE (and can be work/fun or both)
3) people's attention span tends to be short especially for someone who pirates apps

All above combined, and you'll see that pirated apps are digital "unpaid" copies collecting bits of digital dust... until your pirate needs space for whatever-Infinite-Sword-XX game.

BUT... if your pirate is an exception (and an difficult to arguably justify exception by the way), and actually uses the apps for... a living, fun, both... won't the pirate realize that these app developers are often one-man show operations?

The flipside of all this, is the dark side, those who PROFIT from these cracked apps...

It's sad!
h79

November 19, 2013  | person_outline hoyas79

Yep those sites aren't something you just stumble upon on during a leisurely jaunt through Internet Ave. Totally agree that it's pretty clear from his MO that he does frequently install cracked apps, knows where to find them, does it often enough that he can do it in his sleep without worrying about what else might be on those cracked apps etc... and in fact does it often enough that he doesn't think twice about doing that in order to try to find a version that didn't have a bug in it, and then *tells the developer about it* !! He clearly seems to believe this is all "normal".

I forget the name but there is a game where you basically run a software company (make products, sell them, manage customer support etc) and one thing the devs did was that if they detect your copy of their game is cracked, they will let you play the game but after a few hours you'll find that all your in-game software is getting pirated and you go broke. I thought that was pretty funny.

Speaking of which, I wonder if there's an easy way to detect when a user of my app is running a pirated version. Maybe those virtual strings will start to rust after a few days...

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Adil Sherwani (Rhism)

@Rhism -- it was Game Dev Tycoon -- their hack was absolutely brilliant, and really really funny. Their user forums were filled with people asking for help.
http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/04/29/indie-development-sim-game-dev-tycoon-gives-pirates-a-taste-of-their-own-torrenting/

It's possible to detect if an iOS device is jailbroken, but I think there are a lot of legit users who jailbreak (I've got one of my devices jailbroken, so that I could buy Display Recorder to do videos). There's probably a way to detect if the app itself is cracked, but I have not put the time into figuring out how to do it.

If I had the time and gumption, I'd insert a MIDI Rick Roll into the apps; play the riff, and then open the YouTube app to the right page. But if it triggered on a legit user, that would not be good. Fun to think about, though.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Patrick/Secret Base Design

@patrick nice!

November 19, 2013  | person_outline hoyas79

Ha, wow just sending the Rick Roll MIDI would be awesome! I know your time is tight, but if you ever do this I think between the two of us and our devices we should be able to make it safe for legitimate customers on both jailbreaks and non-jailbroken devices.

I know BeatMaker 2 has copy protection, and it works. From time to time I get emails and YouTube comments from people asking: "I can't save a song in BeatMaker 2! It keeps asking me to consider buying BeatMaker 2! What do I do?"

Me: "Have you considered buying BeatMaker 2?"

@Patrick I suspect the best way to detect cracked versions is via the new iOS7-only [NSBundle appStoreReceiptURL] API to get an app install's initial purchase receipt. https://developer.apple.com/LIBRARY/IOS/documentation/Cocoa/Reference/Foundation/Classes/NSBundle_Class/Reference/Reference.html#//apple_ref/occ/instm/NSBundle/appStoreReceiptURL

I haven't had the time to look into it in detail but I'm guessing you could get the receipt from there and then send it up to your server to verify it with Apple's server (the way IAPs are also supposed to be verified, to counteract IAPCracker). And then if you notice dozens / hundreds of app instances seem to be using the same instance of the receipt, you know that's a cracked one and can 'blacklist' it on your server. For all we know someone's already posted some code to do all this.

November 19, 2013  | person_outline Adil Sherwani (Rhism)

buy more apps for less- U.S. residents...Bed Bath & Beyond has $25 itunes gift cards for $20, now through 12/4/13 (<- U.S. date format). in store only, limit 5 *per transaction*. just in time for black friday app sales!

November 19, 2013  | person_outline a1

What is black friday,someone mentioned getting a good deal on ipad air but that was few weeks ago,is it a regular friday sale in US.Theres a warning for beatmaker 2 update for ios7 users - Dont update BUG !

November 19, 2013  | person_outline andre

Ive just realised BM2 is saying dont update if you have ios7 but i thought updates were automatic on ios7,bloody confusing

November 19, 2013  | person_outline andre

@andre- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping)

November 19, 2013  | person_outline a1

a1 thanks we have whats known as boxing day or january sales which are not helpful for xmas but good after,people queue in freezing cold xmas night to get cheap stuff-madness!

November 19, 2013  | person_outline andre

@andre with the ubiquity of Amazon, Black Friday lost much of its appeal, the sheer carnage and general public massacre were sights to behold and wonder (true case studies in fact)... now the closest resemblance might be new product launches like say Playstation, Jesus Phone... but still...

November 20, 2013  | person_outline hoyas79
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